The Manipura Chakra is also known as the Solar Plexus and is the third Chakra. It is located roughly four fingers above the belly button in the centre of the body towards the spine. I recently did a post about this Chakra in April and how it relates to the wood element in Traditional Chinese Medicine, you can read more about it here. This month however we will focus on the solar plexus’s relationship to the fire element.
As a quick reminder, the Manipura is the centre of personal power, it represents individuality, ego, and how we present ourselves to the world. It is a powerful Chakra with a strong sense of self-worth and action. Its affirmations often start with either “I can” or “I do” and the colour associated with the Solar Plexus is yellow.
I recently came across a good description about the Manipura Chakra from Sadhguru and Indian author, his description was;
“The 1st and 2nd Chakra’s together generate life, all that is fundamental and regenerative to the body. The Manipura maintains. This is important because whatever we create will be gone after some time if we do not maintain it.”
I think this is an interesting way to look at the Solar Plexus and it definitely corresponds to the act of action and doing. The fire element and the Niyama Tapas are closely related to the Solar Plexus, they are about action, transformation, and self-discipline, everything we need to maintain those things that we create. Whether that creation is a business, a family, a garden, a home, or a healthy diet, these all need to be maintained, nurtured, and loved to survive.
The Solar Plexus is related to our digestive system and the fire element or Agni (inner digestive fire) is needed for all aspects of movement, movement of the bowels, moving forward in your life we cannot stay still for too long. The 2nd Chakra that we did last month has a feminine, lunar quality to it, the Manipura has a more masculine, sun quality which is energising and action-oriented. An equal balance is needed because even though we aim for our inner fire to burn brightly and strongly we don’t want it to burn out, we want to maintain a steady, consistent flow of energy that’s not overpowering.
Manipura in Your Yoga Practice
Because of where Manipura (Solar Plexus) is located twists, forward folds, prone back-bends are a great way to stimulate this chakra. Think of poses like:
- Parvritta Anjaneyasana (Lunge Twists, all variations)
- Parvritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle pose)
- Parvritta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon)
- All Twist variations, whether, seated, standing, or lying down (supine position)
- Navasana (Boat Pose) and all its variations
- Any abdominal core work.
- Phalakasana – Planks and all their variations
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
- Bhujasana (Cobra Pose) and all prone (face down) back-bends
- Paschimottonasana (West Side Stretch)
- Janu Sirasana (Head to Knee Pose)
- Arm Balances – These normally combine core strength and forward bends and even twists in many cases.
- Surya Namaskar (Sun Salulations)
As you can see most poses will somehow help to stimulate, squeeze and release the Manipura Chakra. So what’s really important is the intention that you bring to the practice, the dedication and discipline of practicing regularly. Remember the job of the Solar Plexus is maintenance, this requires a consistent practice or reminder of what you’re trying to create in your life. Nurturing all the joy and goodness in your life and knowing that you have the ability to change the things that need changing. Know that you are worth the effort it takes to practice self-care consistently. It doesn’t have to to be a daily yoga practice, it might be weekly or bi-weekly practice alongside other things like a short daily meditation, or a daily walk, partaking in the things that you enjoy in other to maintain Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra), like singing, dancing, painting, baking remember you don’t have to be talented at these things, its the experience that the activities bring that is important.
POSE FOCUS FOR THE SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA
Adho Mukha Svanasana Utthan Pristhasana – Downward Facing Dog Lunge or Lunge Dog
Downward dog lunge is basically a lunge in the lower body while the upper body is in down-dog. This pose is great for the 3 lower physical chakra’s, the Muladhara (Root Chakra), Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra), and the Manipura (Solar Plexus Chakra). When we think about the Manipura as maintenance, lunge dog is the pose that helps us to embody this idea. As a bonus, it helps release tension in the neck and shoulders, leaving us feeling light and uplifted.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
- Helps to build a sense of confidence and inner strength
- Reduces stress
- Can be helpful for preparing mentally and physically for arm balances
- Elongalates the spine
- Stretches the hamstrings and quads.
- Opens up the groin
- Releases the shoulders
- Strengthens the core and the legs
- Calms the nervous system
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINICATIONS
- High blood pressure
HINT AND TIPS
- Keep the legs strong and active by pressing the foot into the floor, engage the muscles around the knee and lift the inner thigh up.
- Think down dog the upper body – imagine that your arms start at your lower back ribs and there into the hands as if you are pushing the floor away.
- Back heel can be lifted or you can plant the heel as if you were in Virabhasana 2 (Warrior 2 Pose).
- For pregnancy you can lift the hips even higher so there more space and less pressure.
- If you’re looking to find even more length in the spine you could place blocks under hands.
- If you’re feeling tired or fatigued, back knee can be on the floor but keep lifting the hips up and back.